Austin Manual Therapy Associates

3 Benefits of Pre-Operative Physical Therapy

Do you have a surgery coming up? If so, you probably have a long list of things you need to do and prepare for before your operation. But one important thing to add to that list is scheduling a consultation with a physical therapist.

Many people think that physical therapy is only needed after their surgery. While therapy is certainly a given after most operations, it should be considered as much before operations as well. Preoperative physical therapy, sometimes called “prehabilitation,” is hugely beneficial in more ways than one.

Keep reading to learn the top three reasons to consult with a physical therapist before heading to the operating room, and be sure to give us a call today to set up an appointment before your surgical procedure.

How choosing rehabilitation before physical therapy can change your outcome

1. Prehabilitation may minimize post-surgical pain.

While the research is a bit inconclusive on this topic, we’ve found that many of our patients report experiencing better control over their post-surgical pain if they’ve taken part in physical therapy for at least one or two sessions before going under the knife.

For many people in the weeks following their surgery, pain can be a big concern. Pain can restrict their work, decrease their ability to handle post-operative physical therapy, disrupt their sleep, and even make it difficult for them to manage their environment safely. It can also put a lot of pressure on them to heal faster so they can get back to their normal routines, which does nothing but delay wound healing and cause psychological stress.

We’d certainly like to see some more research studies investigating how pre-operative physical therapy helps control and reduce post-operative pain, including studies with larger sample sizes to really capture the effects. But in the meantime, we’re happy to see that physical therapy services designed to prepare a patient for the demands of surgery help many of our patients experience less discomfort postoperatively and feel less reliant on pain-relieving drugs.

2. Preoperative PT can reduce the amount of care you’ll need after your operation.

Research shows that “prehabbing” for your surgery with a physical therapist before undergoing a hip or knee replacement can significantly reduce the amount of professional care you’ll need postoperatively.

For example, the American Physical Therapy Association references a 2014 study from the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery which showed that just one or two sessions of preoperative physical therapy reduced the use of post-acute care services by nearly 30%.

As you can imagine, reducing the amount of professional postoperative care you need saves you both time and money. In the above-mentioned study, the researchers estimated that preoperative PT saved patients an average of $1,000.

3. Physical therapy can make you strong and healthy in preparation for your surgery.

Going into a surgery as strong as possible also reduces the risk of surgical complications. Perhaps the main underlying benefit of prehab with a PT is that it can effectively “tune up” your body so that you go into your procedure with greater strength, endurance, and stamina.

Plus, a pre-operative physical therapy session or two can also give you a chance to practice the post-operative exercises you’ll be expected to do during your rehabilitation, learn how to move with any new weight-bearing precautions or mobility restrictions you’ll have after surgery, and overall make you a better educated and more well-informed patient.For example, we teach our patients exercises that can strengthen specific joints and muscle groups that may be affected by the operation, which may help these areas recover faster.

All around, preoperative therapy spells out a faster recovery and better surgical results!

Staying safe at home

Part of the prehab work with a physical therapist may involve recommendations for setting up a “recovery zone” in your home.

For example, if your bedroom is on the second floor of your home, you might want to set up a bedroom or resting area on the first floor, to avoid having to use the stairs frequently after surgery.

Kitchen items that you might need to reach should be placed on lower shelves ahead of time, within easy reach. Physical therapy will be important for your recovery, but so will therapeutic rest. Have an area of your home prepared where you can comfortably sit, rest and relax.

See what preoperative physical therapy can do for you

Depending on the type of operation that you have undergone or are planning to undergo, a physical therapist can teach you the proper ways for getting in and out of bed, using mobility assistance devices, getting dressed and using the restroom.

From there, physical therapy will involve helping you with recovery and getting back to a normal life. A physical therapy exercise plan will be tailored toward gradually rebuilding your strength, without the risk of tearing any sutures or reinjuring yourself.

Are you preparing for surgery? To maximize your outcomes, accelerate your recovery, and keep your surgery as cost-effective as possible, contact our physical therapy clinic today to schedule a preoperative appointment with a physical therapist.